The Price You Pay For Puppy Love

by David Redmond on 13 Sep, 2012

The idea of sharing your life with a furry friend may seem irresistible, with a pair of soulful brown eyes staring adoringly up at you and little paws pattering around your home.

Whilst there is no denying that getting a dog can be an absolute delight, the costs involved can be a significant strain on your bank balance.

Obviously, the initial cost depends on what kind of dog you hope to get. With plenty of rescue dogs waiting for a new home, the fee is usually less than £100. However, if you have children and are concerned about having a dog with an unknown background, or perhaps you have set your heart on a particular breed, the cost can be far more.

The Labrador Retriever is one of the nation’s favourite dogs, often seen happily accompanying families on outings, playful, yet calm. After all, is there anyone who doesn’t think the puppies in the Andrex adverts aren’t unbelievably cute? However, having a puppy running around the house could cost as much as £400 to buy – and that’s before you factor in other costs.

Depending on the size of your home, £400 could cover the cost of your gas bills for up to six months, possibly longer. And whilst a gas bill is a lot less cuddly than a puppy, having a warm house and less worry about how you are going to meet the payment will certainly help you sleep better.

But the cost of getting a dog home runs to a lot more than the initial layout to the kennels or breeder. He will need a number of bits of basic equipment, including a comfy bed (and unless you want to listen to a dog howl all night long, this isn’t something you can skimp on!), food and water bowls, plus a collar and lead. Before you lead him away, he will also need his vaccinations, plus a micro-chip. A travel cage is a really good idea, especially for boisterous puppies – having him spring into your lap when you are trying to navigate a roundabout is a recipe for disaster! And when you get him home, you will want to have some toys to keep him occupied because otherwise, he will find something else to play with and the chances are it could be some of your most prized possessions. Of course, there’s no guarantee he won’t do this anyway…

The total estimated cost for the initial equipment comes to £97, in addition to the £400 you have already spent. But the expenditure isn’t over yet; there’s plenty more to think about.

Pet insurance is something more and more owners are opting to take out. It may seem like an extra expense but if your pet pooch falls ill, could you really face having to refuse treatment because you can’t afford it? Or even worse, get yourself into hundreds or even thousands of pounds worth of debt to pay for it? A typical monthly cost of insurance for a dog ranges from £10 to £37 and upwards, yet treating something as simple as a broken leg without insurance, could set you back as much as £2,000. Painful for both of you.

Insurance combined with food and essentials such as poop bags, means you will be spending around £55 per month, excluding any treats or toys you want to buy.

But the costs don’t even end there, there are lots of other things to think about. Worming pills, flea treatments, annual jabs and maybe even neutering all need to be taken into account. And if you fancy a foreign holiday, you will also need to factor in the cost of kennels or a pet-sitter.

Overall, the estimated minimum cost for having a dog for 11 years (an average life expectancy) is around £7,337. If you’re serious about getting a dog, the infographic ‘The Real Cost of Owning a Pet’ created by the financial experts at Baines and Ernst is a great resource that will help you consider whether a dog will fit into your budget.

Whilst it is impossible to place a monetary value on the unconditional love and companionship that having a dog brings, if your finances are stretched, it makes sense to think very carefully before getting a furry friend.

About the Author

David Redmond

David Redmond is a Partner of Don Gilliard Finance Group. He is a fee-only, independent financial advisor and financial planner. For over 15 years, he has been helping individual investors and their families realize their investment goals.